THE curtain came down on the Northern Region events on Saturday, when Alan and Muriel Campbell opened the gates of their organic farm on Finvoy’s Dirraw Road.
The Co. Antrim venue was mind-blowing from the moment you drove up the laneway, where you were greeted by the beautiful horse figure, sculpted out of a fallen beech tree from the farm. This, combined with the neatly trimmed hedges, grass reminiscent of a top class golf course and all the wonderful fence dressings, created the rightful impression of a venue where pride reigned supreme.
There were a number of competitors from Southern Ireland, who travelled up on Friday evening and stabled their horses in accommodation kindly vacated by the liveries, who were only too happy to assist in the plans for the event.
As usual, Adam Stevenson had worked hard on the course design and changed the starting point this time around, which gave him addition scope for challenges. Rea’s of Finvoy, who have been keen supporters of Dirraw Farm, had some of their agricultural machinery on site, by way of fence dressings.
In the opening announcements, Commentator, Raymond Bready, congratulated two of the Medal winning Underage Team members, who were competing. Ben Connors was on the Gold Medal Winning Pony Team in Strzegom with ‘Cornafest Fred’ and he went one step further by adding an Individual Silver medal to his haul. Tom Rowlatt-McCormick claimed a Team Silver medal with ‘Mon Ami Alme’ in the Junior European Championships held at Hartpury. Northern Region were delighted to have these two very talented athletes in their midst.
Then, just before the start of cross-country, Raymond paid tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth 11, well renowned for her love of all things equestrian. This was followed by Mike Alcorn, who delivered a reading of the very fitting ‘Ode to the Horse’ before a Two-Minute Silence was observed.
Cross-country action got underway promptly at 13.30.
David O’Connor from Tullymurry had plenty to celebrate with a hat trick of wins. He took the top honours in the EI 110 class on board ‘Las de Coeur’, a nine-year-old ‘Clerkenwell’ gelding bred by Rachel Ferres and owned by Amy Salmon. They led from the outset and added just 2.8 time penalties to the 26.3 mark allocated by Lucinda Webb Graham, giving them a sub-30 completion score, over 13 points clear of their nearest rival, Casey Webb on Patricia Duffin’s six-year-old ‘Winged Love’ gelding, ‘Hiya Sonny’.
There were just three competitors in the Open EI 110 class, where Steven Smith took the top two spots. The win went to Terry Johnston’s ‘Hi Happy Harry’, a gelding by ‘Porsch’, who added nothing to his first phase mark of 22.3 giving him a leeway of 2.1 over second placed ‘Newferry Jagermeister’, Caryn Walker’s 11-year-old home-bred gelding by the Holsteiner stallion, ‘Lougherne Cashell’.
Again, just three riders contested the Junior section of the EI 110 class, where 16-year-old Emily Brooks from Co. Meath claimed the red rosette with her mother’s six-year-old ‘OBOS Quality’ mare, ‘Ardagh Mayday’, having benefitted from an unfortunate run out on course by the early leader, Grace O’Donoghue from Dun Laoghaire, riding ‘Waverley’, Janet Collin’s seven-year-old mare by ‘Waveney’.
Northern Region member, Molly O’Connor claimed her first win on her father’s very striking piebald mare, ‘Fernhill Mix and Match’ in the two starter EI 110 Pony class. Her friend and fellow Northern member, Connie Cullen followed eight points behind, following a refusal on course at the second part of the penultimate fence, a double of birch.
Kim Constable, who was double-handed in the EI 100 Amateur class, came out victorious with her seven-year-old gelding, ‘Urneypark Big Cat’, replicating her result at Vesey Lodge. However, it was her other mount, ‘Peter the Great’, who started as the first phase leader on a score of 27.8 awarded by Penny Sangster. However, show jumping didn’t go to plan, which propelled ‘Urneypark Big Cat’ into the lead by a margin of 1.9 over Philip Swann and ‘Tignabruich’, bred by his daughter Rachel by ‘Lougherne Corea’, out of the Thoroughbred mare, ‘Brophys Sonnet’.
The EI 100 P class was certainly a battle of two families: Williamson vs Connors, with each of them being represented with two ponies. After a bit of changing fortunes, Carla Williamson came out on top with ‘Ardeo Fireman’, the fabulous pony on which her brother, Josh, won the European team gold medal in Strzegom last month. One lowered show jumping rail with her other pony, ‘Rockon Pedro’ meant they had to settle for the runner up spot.
No stranger to success, Abby Cummiskey added another red rosette to her collection, when taking the win in the EI 100 J class with Sandi Thompson’s ‘Crackerjack V111’ with whom she has been enjoying great results since taking over the ride from Sandi’s daughter, Tola, three years ago. The early lead was held by Raju Singh with ‘Mawillan’ but, once again, the influence of the show jumping relegated them to seventh position. Rachael Broome slotted into second place with her mother’s lovely Thoroughbred mare, ‘Nature’s Blossom’, adding more points for this wonderful partnership in the many Leagues running this year to reward the retraining of ex-racehorses.
Gwen Scott certainly made an impact in the EI 100 class, where she rode to victory on her maiden outing with Declan O’Neill’s five-year-old ‘OBOS’ bay gelding, ‘Ratheoin Quality Imp’. They led from pillar to post and added nothing to the Penny Sangster awarded score of 25.3, giving them a 0.7 margin over second placed Casey Webb with Jane Huey’s ‘Moylough Bouncer’ mare, ‘Knockaleery Legacy’.
Comber girl, Sophie Cowan, had plenty to celebrate after taking the win in the EI 90 Amateur class with her 10-year-old mare, ‘Tempo Quickstep’, bred by Gabriel and Madeline Tunney. The combination, who placed third in the Baileys Horse Feeds Flexi Eventing Series this year, completed on their fabulous dressage score of 22, one point ahead of Eilidh Gribben and ‘V Zermie 51’, the class winners at Vesey Lodge two weeks ago.
David O’Connor took his second win of the day in the EI 90 class with ‘Tullymurry Vegas’, a four-year-old gelding by the Irish Draught stallion, ‘King of Mourne’, on just their third outing. They kept both jumping phases clean to finish almost three points clear of Laoise O’Farrell and ‘Miss Mojito’, a five-year-old mare enjoying her second competition under Eventing Ireland rules.
13-year-old Adam Boggs from Dromore was victorious in the EI 90 P class with his father’s piebald gelding, ‘Tony’, finishing on his sub-30 dressage score, just over six points clear of Maya Constable and ‘Duncarbery Cascade’, who moved up one place from her Vesey Lodge result.
There were three training classes held, with Jim Newsam taking the honours in the EI 100 T class with ‘Tullybee Louie’, Carole Hawthorne’s five-year-old gelding by ‘Tyson’. They experienced no problems in either of their jumping phases, holding a margin in excess of two over second placed Neil Morrison with ‘Fire and Fury’.
A delighted Mya McCullough picked up her first place rosette for her performance in the EI 90 T class on board her mother’s ‘Halleys Hero’, a 12-year-old mare by ‘Eastern Hero’. They finished on Lucinda Webb-Graham’s first phase mark with a six point advantage over Cullybackey girl, Sophie Clugston and ‘Question Mark’, her six-year-old skewbald gelding, who also completed on their dressage score.
Meantime, David O’Connor finished his hat trick of wins by rising to the fore in the EI 80 T class with ‘Clonquest’, Jenny Nixon’s lovely four-year-old grey mare bred by Georgia Stubington. They moved up two places from dressage in a class where there were just four clear show jumping rounds out of 12. Fiona McKenna was thrilled to pick up second place on her home-bred ‘Little Lexie Lady’, a mare by the Connemara Pony stallion, ‘Gwennie de Goariva’. Fiona, as well as all other competitors in the top six of this class, received beautiful Equine First Aid kits, very kindly and generously sponsored by Rosie Alcorn of Coastal Equine Veterinary, based at Dirraw Farm.
Huge thanks go to Alan and Muriel Stevenson for the warm welcome to Finvoy and for the use of their fabulous facilities. Thanks, too, to their liveries, who vacated their stables for Northern Region use and helped at the event, together with the ‘Friends of Finvoy’, who painted, strimmed etc in the run up to Saturday.
Since this is the final NR event of 2022, thanks are extended to all the landowners who have opened their gates to Northern Region this year and without these marvellous venues, NR would not have a sport.
Thanks, too, to all the sponsors, who have been very loyal over the years: Baileys Horse Feeds, Bedmax Shavings, Down Royal Corporation of Horse Breeders, Glenpatrick Horse Boxes, Horse First, Lightsource BP, Metal Technology, Orthoderm, Sporting Images. Their contribution is hugely appreciated, as is their support and association.
Finally, heartfelt thanks go to each and every volunteer, who has helped this year. Northern Region are most fortunate to have this pool of hard working, professional supporters. The sport just would not function without their invaluable input. They are certainly not fair weather workers, as was experienced at times this year. Their commitment and dedication to the sport is legendary and deeply appreciated.
Saturday, September 17
EI 110 Open: 1) Steven Smith, Hi Happy Harry; 2) Steven Smith, Newferry Jagermeister; 3) Jill McGettigan, Watermill Hollie.
EI 110: 1) David O’Connor, Las De Coeur; 2) Casey Webb, Hiya Sonny; 3) Tara Dixon, Smart One; 4) Jill Revill, Lislan Aganix; 5) Jo Andrews, The Peak Panther; 6) Clare Holland, Chantilly Rouge.
EI 110 J: 1) Emily Brooks, Ardagh Mayday; 2) Grace O’Donoghue, Waverley.
EI 110 P: 1) Molly O’Connor, Fernhill Mix and Match; 2) Connie Cullen, Ballyvary Padraig.
EI 100 Amateur: 1) Kim Constable, Urneypark Big Cat; 2) Philip Swann, Tignabruich; 3) Ruth Lyttle, Taylorstown Timeless; 4) Kim Constable, Peter The Great.
EI 100 P: 1) Carla Williamson, Ardeo Fireman; 2) Carla Williamson, Rockon Pedro; 3) Ben Connors, Cloneenagh Ted; 4) Alex Connors, Meelicks River.
EI 100 J: 1) Abby Cummiskey, Crackerjack V111; 2) Rachael Broome, Natures Blossom; 3) Alex Connors, King-Paola; 4) Lee Bloomfield, Totally Special; 5) Lucy Kayes, Slievenisky Shamrock; 6) Alex O’Hare, Alcatraz.
EI 100: 1) Gwen Scott, Ratheoin Quality Imp; 2) Casey Webb, Knockaleery Legacy; 3) Steven Smith, Tullaher Paudie; 4) Lucca Stubington, Hans First Lady; 5) Lucca Stubington, Zeevagh Green; 6) Andrew Greer, Sharp Object.
EI 90 Amateur: 1) Sophie Cowan, Tempo Quickstep; 2) Eilidh Gribben, V Zermie 51; 3) Michaela Donnelly, Burke Private Bluebird; 4) Wendy Findlay, Celde Lauryn.
EI 90: 1) David O’Connor, Tullymurry Vegas; 2) Laoise O’Farrell, Miss Mojito; 3) Lucca Stubington, Kessler; 4) Paul Caves, Quality quin; 5) Katie McKee, Summit; 6) Maria Carr, Dashing Chap.
EI 90 P: 1) Adam Boggs, Tony; 2) Maya Constable, Duncarbery Cascade.
EI 100 T: 1) Jim Newsam, Tullybee Louie; 2) Neil Morrison, Fire and Fury; 3) Neil Morrison, Whats App Alfie.
EI 90 T: 1) Mya McCullough, Halleys Hero; 2) Sophie Clugston, Question Mark; 3) Elle West, Magherard Celtic; 4) Ross Reynolds, Patsy Fegan; 5) Sarah O’Shea, Laylas Rosie; 6) Craig Hills, High Hopes Tuxita.
EI 80 T: 1) David O’Connor, Clonquest; 2) Fiona McKenna, Little Lexi Lady; 3) Emily Maneely, Rosie 2; 4) Lauren McLaughlin, Cullion Midnight Blue; 5) Robyn Rice, Holiday Kruising; 6) Orla McGlynn, Regal Ruler.
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